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Chapter 19 - International Organizations - Political Science 101

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University of Alberta
Political Science
POL S101
Davina Rousell

Chapter 19 – International Organization What is an International Organization? o Cluster of ideas and coalitions of interest that exist at a transnational level and actively work towards certain desired outcomes o Public or private, state and non-state actors o Enormous variety of forms o International organizations operate in a sphere that transcends (beyond the range or limit of) the state system. This does not mean they are more important or powerful than states; certain realists would not see them that way. o Like states, international organizations are tangible institutional products of social and political forces. o They represent clusters of ideas and coalitions of interest that exist at a transnational level and actively work towards certain desired outcomes. o Can be public or private, depending if state or non-state actors set them up. o International Regime o Term used to understand international cooperation o Steven Krasner (1983): “implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules and decision-making procedures around which actors’ expectations converge in a given area of international relations” o Example: the “international human rights regime” o Not an organization itself, but often involves organizations  Originated as a way of understanding international cooperation  Stephen Krasner (1983) is credited with popularizing the term. He defines regimes as “implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules and decision- making procedures around which actors’ expectations converge in a given area of international relations.”  Keohane (1993: 23) – much of world politics is characterized by highly organized and systematic cooperation; yet there are few rules that are hierarchically enforced. Rather, the rules are followed voluntarily and cooperatively, becoming embedded in relations of reciprocity.  Example: International Human Rights Regime, encompassing many organizations (the UN, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International) that converge around a particular cluster of norms and principles. MNCs and TCO’s o Multinational Corporations (MNCs): international organizations with an economic focus o Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) o Often excluded in the discussions of international organizations, but they are becoming more important on the world scene o Associated with the globalization of both licit and illicit markets o Increasingly seen as threatening to both national and international security. TCO’s = Transnational Criminal Organizations o Activities: drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering, people smuggling which requires international policing cooperation. o Increased interdependence between states, developments in international travel and communications, and the globalization of international financial networks. TCO’s are constantly seen as threats to both national and international security. o Even though they are primarily economic actors, they may facilitate the business of terror networks by providing money-laundering facilities, false documents, and weapons or other material for terrorist purposes. o There may be some growing convergence between terrorists and organizated crime networks , NGO’S = Non-governmental Organizations o Established by non-state or non-government actor whose primary business is not strictly commercial (or illicit). IGO’s = Intergovernmental Organizations o Established by states through multilateral agreements o Most important of all IGOs is the United Nations Organization. A “global association of governments facilitating cooperation in international law, security, economic development, and social equity”. o League of Nations was the UN’s predecessor o The League, which was meant to function as a collective security organization, has sometimes been described as a failed experiment because it did not prevent the Second World War. In 1939, The League also chose not to take action against Japan for invading parts of China in 1931 and failed to prevent Italy from invading Ethiopia in 1935. Member states were too afraid of another world war to risk intervening. KEY POINTS o International organizations comes in such a variety of forms that they are difficult to define, both with respect to their relationship with states and the state system as well as in terms of their constitutional elements. o IR scholars interested in the contributions that international organizations make to the international system as a whole tend to focus on intergovernmental organizations and non-government organizations o Although multinational corporations and terrorist and other criminal organizations operating in the international sphere do not constitute international organizations of a kind, they are usually treated separately. Two Views of International Organizations: Cynical vs. Idealistic 1. Cynical view that emphasize the dramatic rhetoric and seeming inability to deal with vital problems that are said to characterize international organizations, and the UN in particular. This view is mirrored in some realist theories, international organizations should be treated as insignificant actors on the international state. 2. Idealistic view – those who hold this view envisage global solutions to the problems facing the world today, without recognition of the constraints imposed by state sovereignty. Most of the naïve calls for world government are products of this view Neither view should be entirely accepted or entirely rejected, because international organizations are neither irrelevant nor omnipotent in global politics. They play important roles in international relations but their influence varies according to the issue area and situation confronted. The Emergence of International Organizations (IOs) o Defensive leagues of 7 -5 century BCE in China o Basic security agreements among city states in ancient Greece o Six Nations agreements in North America o Medieval Europe saw the Hanseatic League, Swiss confederation, United Provinces of thee Netherlands, and the Catholic Church. o Scale of early IOs was limited by transportation and communication technologies o As new technologies developed, so too did the reach of the organizations o State interests, particularly in areas of trade, were seen to move foreword in cooperation with other states. o Communications and transportation technologies formed the basis for other important IOs:  International Telegraph Union (now the International Telecommunications Union)  Universal Postal Union (1874)  Intethational Union of Railway Freight and Transportation (1890) o In the late 19 century, IOs spread to a range of issue areas including  Public Health  Industry and trade  Intellectual property The Concert of Europe o Not an IO itself, but a precursor of important ones to follow o Established a pattern of cooperation o Encouraged the idea that representatives of states should gather not just at the end of a war, but so as to prevent war o 1815 Congress of Vienna also the first to take a stand on a broad humanitarian issue (anti- slavery) KEY POIN
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